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When you travel often, whether for work or fun, it can be tricky to find a destination and travel style that’s truly unique and beyond expectations.
Introducing island hopping in Croatia on a sailing adventure!
You don’t need to limit yourself to exploring the mainland (even though it’s incredible), and island hopping is one of the best things to do in Croatia.
There are several ways to sail Croatia islands and plan a Croatia sailing trip like this and endless possibilities for the activities you can include.
Sail Croatia – 5 Can’t Miss Croatia Islands
There are many ports throughout Croatia’s Dalmatian Isles.
But planning an island hopping trip in Croatia doesn’t need to include all of them, even though that would be a dream.
Below are our top five picks for ports and places to visit in Croatia with the best activities for planning a diverse experience when you sail Croatia islands.
Split: not just a port town
Prior to starting our Croatian sailing adventure we’d heard and read that Split wasn’t a spectacular place to visit.
And that, my friends, is why you should take every negative travel statement with a grain of salt.
Split was not only a fascinating place to explore on foot, but it was also picturesque in every sense of the word.
Known for its old town, Split still has most of its city wall intact, and what you find both within and just outside are wonderful European gems unlike other cities.
Of course there are tourists, but Split is also an active community of thriving Croatian culture.
On any given day you’ll find the locals enjoying the cafes and theatre just as much as visitors.
Climb the steps heading north out of the old town. You’ll get views down through the Dalmatian Isles and a workout before you head out sailing.
Vis: our favorite Dalmatian Isle
We wanted to drop everything and move to Vis the moment we came into port.
Very much basking in its centuries old dreaminess, Vis is exactly the sort of town you’d hope to visit on your Croatia cruise.
It’s picturesque with the turquoise waters lapping at the docks and the golden sunlight making the old stone buildings glow.
Built around a bay, the town of Vis has several neighborhoods to explore, either on foot or bike.
Biking around the town and up to Fort George is a great afternoon activity with strolling the side streets and shopping for truffle products taking up the rest of your time.
This is a great spot for looking for tartuf products. OMG, the truffle cheeses…
Vis has several swimming beaches and coves.
We recommend renting bikes when you’re in port to get to some of them. They are a great addition to exploring the town and island.
Hvar: a photographer’s dream
Being a popular island with Croatian locals, Hvar is a hot spot!
It’s definitely the most trendy and fresh of the many Croatia islands you can stop at on your Croatia sailing trip, but it also has a wonderful, historic side.
The combination and narrow, maze-like streets and fortress high above the town makes for a photographer’s dream.
Every angle and ever facade is worth a moment of appreciation.
At night, the harbor glows with street lamps and neon, while visitors relax in outdoor lounges and cafes.
Whether you’re looking for nightlife or historic charm, Hvar is a must-visit for Croatia island hopping.
Climb the hill to Fortica Španjola.
The views of the town and city wall are breathtaking and touring the fort is both interesting and creepy.
Mljet: two perfect ports to visit
Maybe I shouldn’t share about Mljet. It’s such a perfect place and I don’t think anybody should visit…but that’s just it!
It is still one of those quiet, serene Croatia islands that both captures a bygone way of life AND provides for great tourism opportunities.
The Island of Mljet is home to one of Croatia’s national parks, Mljet National Park, which takes up half of the island.
Another wonderful island for biking, making port in Polače puts you just on the edge of the park and in perfect position to ride through Roman ruins, past vineyards and to a chain of salt water lakes.
An ancient monastery is a boat ride away once in the national park and the gorgeous surrounds will make you so glad you visited.
The other port you can add to your itinerary when you sail Croatia is Okuklje. If this were a town on a highway, if you blinked you would miss it.
Truly, a special place, Okuklje is a slice of heaven on earth.
A perfect port for swimming and hiking through the hills, it may be the quietest place we’ve visited in all of Europe.
Very few boats can fit in this tiny cove town, but if you’re lucky enough to call it home for a night, you’ll be glad you did.
Locally made olive oil and grappa are two of the best souvenirs you can find on your Croatia cruise, and Okuklje has a few residents that make them and sell them to the small number of visitors the town gets.
Lokrum: Dubrovnik’s escape
No matter how you plan your itinerary for Croatian island hopping, you’ll most likely have a day or two in Dubrovnik.
The city is one of a kind, and with Game of Thrones using it as the backdrop and filming location of King’s Landing, it’s become wildly popular.
You will for sure want to explore the city and take in the sunset from the city wall, but getting away from it is a refreshing option as well.
Otok Lokrum is a short sail or boat ride from the old town marina of Dubrovnik.
What will you find?
Lokrum is covered in ruins, hiking trails, swimming access spots and peacocks.
Also, it’s got its own Game of Thrones filming sites and views of Dubrovnik from the fortress, Fort Royale.
Wear or bring your swimming clothes when you visit Lokrum as there are plenty of spots to jump in and enjoy the perfect Mediterranean water.
Tips for Planning a Croatian Island Hopping Adventure
Whenever you’re considering any sort of holiday or vacation, you always need to consider three things.
This applies to Croatian island hopping too:
- Activities / interests
- Destination location
1. Vary your island hopping itinerary to include destinations that offer more than food tours and photography walks.
Those are wonderful activities and will for sure be different in each port, but there are many other ways to see and experience the destination.
While many islands have similar activities and charm, each has a very different history or cultural product that’s unique to it. And that’s our first tip!
Visit ports that YOU can be your own guide and discover your own favorite spots!
Another tip is to include physically active days in your plan.
2. Incorporate biking, hiking and kayaking to change your perspective and energize your trip.
It is very easy to set up shop in a cafe and watch the world go by. Mix it up by including a morning hike or afternoon bike rental with your stops.
Also, when island hopping, take advantage of being on the water by getting into the water!
Enjoy your time sailing by actually swimming.
3. Drop anchor in quiet coves and near beaches so you can swim in the Mediterranean waters.
From late spring to early fall the water is plenty warm and is perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding (SUP).
The view from the water is wonderful and refreshing.
Remember that European beaches are very different from American or Caribbean beaches. If you want to experience a clothing optional beach go for it.
The culture of beaches in Croatia ranges from family-friendly swimming areas to publicly noted nude beaches.
Be respectful wherever you are and allow yourself to enjoy the beach at whatever level you’re most comfortable.
Sailing is a fantastic way to visit many destinations, but time between destinations may surprise you.
4: Plan your itinerary to have short sailing days for more time in each port.
There are plenty of resources online and sailing skippers know the routes that will give you the best experience on land. Be smart about choosing your top priorities to minimize travel time.
Our last tip is regarding your budget
5. When it comes to budgeting, allow enough room to splurge and try new things.
Money is a stress in everyday life that you don’t want to have impact your time traveling.
When you’re planning and budgeting, build a cushion to have unexpected expenses, both fun and emergency, so that you don’t have to scramble to enjoy the remainder of your trip.
Enjoy planning a Croatian island hopping trip. Enjoy exploring Dalmatia. Have a marvelous adventure!
Croatia Cruises & Tours
For 29 years Daluma Travel Croatia Cruises and Tours has been organizing unique and unforgettable vacations for travelers.
They specialize in one day sailing tours and 4-8 day small ship island hopping tours in Croatia.
You can even have your own private Croatia sailing tours with a professional skipper.
Let them take care of the logistics and organization of your Croatia cruise so you can relax on the deck, soak up the beauty of the Adriatic Sea and explore the incredible Croatia Islands.